A 2WD Hybrid-Electric Motorcycle for the US Military?

In the coming years, US special forces may be riding a tw0-wheel drive, hybrid-electric, multi-fuel motorcycle co-developed by BRD Motorcycles and Logos Technologies. Helping make this project possible is a Small Business Innovation Research grant from DARPA. The goal is to make a single-track vehicle for US expeditionary and special forces that will be nearly silent in operation, yet also capable of traveling long distances. Details on the proposed machine are light, of course, but it sounds like the 2WD dirt bike will be based off the BRD RedShift MX (shown above), and use an electric drivetrain, as well as a multi-fuel internal combustion engine to achieve its goals.

Colin Edwards Will Retire from Racing after 2014 Season

Announcing his decision during the pre-event press conference for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Colin Edwards told the assembled press that 2014 would be the Texan’s last season racing a motorcycle. Citing a lack of improvement on his performance in pre-season testing and at the Qatar GP, Edwards decision perhaps answers the lingering question in the paddock of when the American rider would hang-up his spurs after an illustrious career in AMA, WSBK and MotoGP. Talking about his inability to come to terms with the Forward Yamaha, which Aleix Espargaro was able to take to the front of the pack in Qatar, Edwards was at a loss when it came to understanding the Open Class machine and his lack of results.

MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes. The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model. The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW.

Bell & COTA Create Texas-Themed Limited-Edition Helmet

Continuing its theme of making limited-edition helmets for premier-class US rounds, Bell Helmets has teamed up with the Circuit of the Americas and Chris Wood, of Airtrix, to create a Texas-themed Bell Star Carbon helmet, just in time for COTA’s MotoGP race next weekend. Available only until April 13th, the Bell/COTA helmet features a red, white, and blue flag motif on the front, with both the American and State of Texas flags visible, which then wrap around the rear to merge with a hardwood design, reminiscent of the floorboards in a Western saloon. The helmet is also crowned with a Longhorn cattle skull, which adds to the Texan motif. The specially designed helmet also features a horseshoe, the COTA logo, and the 2014 Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas logo.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012. How different the situation looks today. In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common. The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale. With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question. Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster.

Photos of the Mugen Shinden Ni sans Fairings

Given the competitive nature of the electric racing realm, its rare to see the big high-power bikes without their fairings, as teams are reluctant to reveal their secret sauce. Debuting the Mugen Shinden San this past weekend in Tokyo though, Team Mugen did just that, giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of the team’s 2013 race bike, the Mugen Shinden Ni. You don’t have to be an electron-head to get excited by these photos, as any race bike with a carbon fiber frame and swingarm is pretty drool-worthy, though the Shinden Ni’s carbon fiber battery enclosure does hide a great deal of the electric superbike’s geek factor. While the sheer size of the battery bike is impressive, it was expected when the Shinden was first announced.

Mugen Shinden San (神電 参) Electric Superbike Revealed

Mugen’s third purpose-built electric superbike for the Isle of Man TT, the Mugen Shinden San, has been revealed in Japan. Campaigning two machines for this year’s TT Zero race, Mugen has John McGuiness and Bruce Anstey at the helm of its “Shinden San” bikes, as the duo looks for a one-two finish in this year’s race. With MotoCzysz not racing at the Isle of Man this year, Mugen is a hot favorite to take the top podium spots, as well as crack the 110 mph barrier for electrics on the historic Snaefell Mountain Course (Mugen is targeting a 115 mph lap). An evolution on the company’s previous designs, the Shinden San fits 134hp — 10hp more than last year, thanks to a new smaller three-phase brushless motor provided by Mission Motors — into its 529lbs bulk.

Trackside Tuesday: The Winning Personality of Jack Miller

Chatting with a couple of NASCAR fans recently, I was reminded that any competition is boring if you don’t care who wins. But if you do care, then even cars driving around in circles can be very compelling entertainment. Those NASCAR fans really cared about how their favorite drivers finished, and not only how they finished in the latest race, but what and how those drivers were doing off the track as well. Those fans had been captured by the personalities of those drivers. One of the things NASCAR does well is sell personalities. All major sports-related businesses do this to some extent, but some organizations do it better than others.

Audi to Buy Ducati?

03/12/2012 @ 11:35 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Audi to Buy Ducati? audi four rings vintage 635x448

It has been almost a year now since we broke the news that Ducati Motor Holding was up for sale, and I still can’t tell if the appropriate metaphor for the ongoing acquisition is a game of musical chairs or Russian roulette. Vying for a seat or putting the chamber to its temple, our latest contestant in “Who Wants to Buy Ducati” is Audi, the four-ringed German car manufacturer. Reported to have a right of first refusal, Audi allegedly has until mid-April to finalize a deal with Investindustrial (Ducati’s main investor) to buy Ducati from the Italian investment group.

Though Ducati sold over 40,000 motorcycles in 2011, the Italian company has roughly €800 million in debt on its books. This means that any company interested in buying Ducati would have to assume the Italian company’s debt onto its own books, which changes the actual purchase price of Ducati dramatically. For its part, Audi is rumored to be making an offer in the €850 million range, which would put the actual purchase value of Ducati at over €50 million, and could put as much as €100 million on the table for Investindustrial to take.

For a bit of history, Ducati’s first suitor was AMG (read: Mercedes-Benz), and while Ducati was keen to sell to the german sport car manufacturer, the Stuttgart natives were reportedly less enthusiastic about the idea. Though AMG and Ducati didn’t enter into a shotgun wedding, the two parties did have a quick torrid affair that resulted in the two companies sharing their marketing efforts, which included the creation of the Ducati Diavel AMG. With the romance reportedly ending late last year, Ducati continued to flirt across the bar with several other brands, and even sent some very ouvert signals with the mention of a private offering and the rumor of a public listing on the Hong Kong stock index.

Since that time (and likely to some extent before it), investment bankers have been trying to line up potential buyers for the brand, with prices in the €800 million to €1 billion range being bandied about by the media, all with a sliding scale of accuracy that can only be found in motorcycle journalism. While companies like VW and BMW have long been linked to buying Ducati, the ah-ha moment in this whole process has been the idea of an Indian suitor.

This has lead to companies like Mahindra and Hero MotoCorp being brought into the rumor fold, which has almost certainly been a complete fabrication by the motorcycle media. The Mahindra component in these reports appears to be caused from pure speculation by some India-based news sources, while Hero’s involvement has been twisted around to make the India’s largest motorcycle-maker more involved than it actually is. With investment bankers approaching Hero, not the other way around, the Indian company confirmed that it had looked into buying Ducati, as it does with all credible offers that are brought to it its table — nothing more, nothing less.

This chain of events brings us to the present, where now reports are circling that Audi could be the new home of Ducati motorcycles. Though spreading over the internet like wildfire, the news comes from a solitary article on Car Magazine, which has been reprinted by several of the magazine’s other sister publications. According to Car, this news dovetails nicely with VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech’s desire to have a motorcycle brand in its wings.

Linked first to Horex, the idea of reviving the aged brand was deemed less appealing by Volkswagen than purchasing a turn-key operation. The purchase would also give VW something to rival BMW Motorrad, though perhaps most importantly, Ducati’s lower carbon emissions could help offset the large touring cars that Audi builds, as emissions standards in Europe continue to get more stringent. Should Zie Germans like what they see as they go through Ducati’s books and operations, it would prove to be a pivotal point in time for the Italian brand. A company like Audi would have the kind of resources Ducati would need to mount a larger global operation, which would help take Ducati to its next mile-marker on its goal sheet.

Car Magazine

Comment:

  1. Smitch says:

    Sounds like good news, hope it happens. Audi is an acceptable caliber of parent company to the fans, I think. It is to me, at least.
    Wasn’t surprised how in debt they are. It’s amazing these Italian companies make such awesome stuff, operate in the negative, and just continue living on and on (MV included). Doesn’t seem to make business sense, but it’s good for fans of the marques.

  2. noch says:

    with Audi’s experience with narrow V design, would be cool to see a VR6 like the Horex

  3. kevin says:

    I guess VW is looking to have a hand in every form of transportation. I’m waiting for an airplane/helicopter manufacturer to come within the VW umbrella.

  4. Michael L says:

    I hope this is true. From a cross-marketing/branding perspective, it would be interesting to see how they position Ducati’s bikes with Audi’s line-up or interests, (or Porsche’s possibly?).

  5. Michael L says:

    Or Lamborghini’s?

  6. nakdgrl says:

    I like this combo: Audi + Ducati = heaven
    My mind is just reeling at the potential beauty they could blend.

  7. Mark says:

    I’m all for this, provided Audi/VW leave Ducati alone, and not try to inject the VW/Audi DNA into Ducati, as this will certainly ruin them. I trust senior VW management is smart enough to realize this, and keep Ducati’s DNA pure.

  8. Krylov says:

    To think: Fantastic Italian design and innovative engineering ideas
    combined with German quality manufacturing and control – sounds
    interesting.
    (Seems to work out for Lamborghini all right, since they
    are together with Audi.)

    Horrible alternative:
    German utilitarian, but fugly design (think R1200GS!) plus Italian
    manufacturing and quality control – guess I’ll pass.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Audi to Buy Ducati? – http://t.co/ch5cq4wv #motorcycle

  10. RIDER says:

    I don’t like the idea, Audi is far from a drivers car imo. That could possibly dilute Ducati’s to come.

  11. Jay says:

    Italy must be a terrible place to run a manufacturing business–so many wonderful cars and motorcycles made there, and so many losing money and bankrupt, or nearly so.

  12. Halfie 30 says:

    If this happens, I’m selling my Duc.

  13. Cpt.Slow says:

    As long as the Italians are making the food and the Germans the Stove, this will be ok!

    I guess no more Ducati are the Ferrari of the motorcycle world. Insert, Lambo!

  14. AK says:

    I don’t care who end-up buying Ducati, if quality is there I will buy again. People didn’t stop buying MV when they were owned by HD or Lambo when Chrysler own them.

  15. Scott A. Maciag says:

    Ducati should reduce it’s debt. Fire Rossi.

  16. Damo says:

    Not a huge German automobile fan in general, but I doubt it would have much negative effect on Ducati. It would probably help strengthen the brand from a financial resource level.

    In 2004 when aprilia was acquired by the Piaggio scooter group, people thought the sky was falling on the Italian brand. Then they used the financial backing to develop and release the RSV4 and a bevy of other awesome bikes. (Although I wish they still packed Rotax lumps)

    So this could be great for Ducati.

  17. Westward says:

    Fiat + Ducati

    Keep it all Italian

    But since I’m also a fan of Audi,

    I suppose its not a bad thing…